Flu Shots, Hutterites, and Sleep Apnea

It seems that even in very closed communities, flu vaccinations can help to lower the rate of influenza infections. A recent NY Times article described a study that revealed that widespread flu vaccinations in Hutterite schoolchildren resulted in lower rates of infection throughout the community, including adults. The population that received the vaccine had about a 5% rate of infection, whereas the placebo group had a 10% rate of infection. 

 

Regardless of the implications of this study, what caught my eye were the pictures. In the article, the two children and woman's faces were nice and wide. I went on to google other pictures of Hutterites, and by a wide margin, most of the adults and children have very wide jaws and facial structures. This is in contrast to regular urban people (especially younger adults and children) with more narrow faces and small jaws. Small jaws means less room to breathe at night due to narrowing of the space behind the tongue.

 

This makes sense since secluded communities like the Hutterites tend to eat off the land and breastfeed for extended periods of time. It's expected that they'll have proper dental development, and as a result, will be more immune to the effects of any viral infection, even the influenza virus. 

 

Any degree of inflammation in the upper airways can aggravate further narrowing, leading to more frequent pauses in breathing, leading to aspiration of stomach juices into the lungs and nose, aggravating a vicious cycle into more obstructions. This is why people with sleep-breathing problems suffer more complications such as pneumonia, sinus and ear infections.

 

We know that some people who catch the flu experience it just like a common cold, whereas for others, it can be deadly. It's one thing to show that giving immunizations can prevent infections, but what's the rate of complications in Hutterites that do contract the flu? I'm willing to bet it's much lower than normal. With this in mind, it it even worth vaccinating this particular population?

 

What's your opinion about my theory? 

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